During a U.S. Court of Appeals hearing on November 9, Maher Arar’s lawyer David Cole, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, sought to re-start a suit to recover damages for Arar’s extraordinary rendition to Syria, where he was tortured. A lawyer for former Attorney General John Ashcroft charged that Arar had “unequivocal membership in al-Qaeda.” That did not go over well with the court. Judge Robert Sack asked the lawyer if there was a new assessment to justify that characterization, and when he could not get a straight answer he remarked, “So we will make believe he’s a member of al-Qaeda?” Lawyers for Ashcroft and the Justice Department also tried to derail the appeal on grounds of official immunity and of the maintenance of relations with Syria and Canada. Josť Cabranes, another member of the court hearing the case, wanted to know how the U.S. could be off the hook for sending a man to a place where he was tortured. He questioned the contention of lawyers for Ashcroft and Justice that as an alien he lacked Constitutional protection against overseas torture.